Kevin Moore and Chad Peterson aren’t a couple in real life — they just play one onstage… a lot. Meet Dallas’ gay answer to Lunt & Fontanne
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Executive Editor
The theater world is filled with famous acting duos. Lunt and Fontanne. Olivier and Leigh. Moore and Peterson.
Those last two may sound less familiar to you, but only if you haven’t seen a show from Uptown Players in the last decade. Kevin Moore and Chad Peterson have been frequent scene partners there — “I counted 10 shows that we’ve done together, that does not count Broadway Our Way [performances] — all but two of which have been at Uptown Players,” Peterson observes.
Among the productions in which they’ve been cast as a couple are Thrill Me, The Facts of Life: The Lost Episode and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. Add to that list Harbor, the season-closing production they are opening in this week at the Kalita Humphreys Theater. Once again, they play a couple, though it’s still something of a landmark for them: For the first time, they’re married. “He’s finally made an honest woman out of me,” Peterson quips.
In the show, Moore plays Kevin, a stay-at-home writer working on the Great American Novel while his architect-husband (Peterson) supports them. When Kevin’s sister (Cara Statham Serber) visits with her daughter in tow, she triggers discussions about parenting, starting a family and the boundaries of a relationship, both comically and dramatically.
While they are often cast as lovers onstage, in real life, the two are just close friends and have never dated.
“For a long time people just assumed we were together,” Moore says. It’s understandable why, considering how long their association has lasted.
“Ten years this summer was, for both of us, our first show with Uptown — Southern Baptist Sissies,” Moore says. At the time, they were both relative newcomers to local theater; Moore had only done one show before (“It was the pivotal role of ‘non-speaking valet’ in Amadeus at the old Plano Rep,” he jokes), while Peterson had acted in a handful of plays at places like Theatre Arlington. Peterson was so intent on doing it, though, he drove a daily round-trip between the Metroplex and Waco for rehearsals and performances for more than a month. “I did Six Degrees of Separation where I had my first kiss — period!” he says.
The friendship has probably helped cultivate their performances and made them seem more authentic onstage.
“The [biggest question for an actor] is, can you trust this person? That’s already there with us, so we can work on the other stuff,” Moore says.
“We have also had to do some physical stuff onstage, like kiss,” Peterson says. “I’ve probably kissed [Kevin] more than I’ve kissed anybody! It’s not a big deal to tell this person your breath stinks — like, ‘So, apparently you had Chipotle for dinner.’ But we’re not a package deal. Parts are sold separately.”
Harbor is something of a change of pace for them, though, in that they have been cast somewhat against type.
“I tend to play certain types of roles,” Moore says. “If I’m paired in a relationship, I’m usually cast as the more masculine part. We say for the first time now, he’s the top and I’m the bottom. Keeps ’em guessin’! But at some point I’m like, why are they casting us? Audience members must be thinking, ‘Really? Are there no other actors around?”
Coy Covington, who has played Peterson’s mother once and Moore’s lover twice but directs them both for the first time here, has an answer to that.
“Kevin and I have been talking about this play for a while,” Covington says. “We were talking about this natural chemistry they have together, like Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. But it’s been a joy to work with two people who we could put in any situation and make it work.”
Peterson says there are actually advantages to being friends but not a real-life couple.
“I would never want to act with a boyfriend or even date an actor,” he says. “It’s too much time together,” adds more. You don’t want the outside stuff — annoying each other as friends, not as colleagues — to affect the performance, they say.
Still, that seems unlikely with these two. After so many shows together, they’re as conformable as an old married couple.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 9, 2015.